What secrets are hidden within the walls of a desolate farmhouse in a forgotten corner of Lapland?
Early spring has its icy grip on Ödesmark, a small village in northernmost Sweden, abandoned by many of its inhabitants. But Liv Björnlund never left. She lives in a derelict house together with her teenage son, Simon, and her ageing father, Vidar. They make for a peculiar family, and Liv knows that they are cause for gossip among their few remaining neighbours.
Just why has Liv stayed by her domineering father’s side all these years? And is it true that Vidar is sitting on a small fortune? His questionable business decisions have made him many enemies over the years, and in Ödesmark everyone knows everyone, and no one ever forgets.
Now someone wants back what is rightfully theirs. And they will stop at nothing to get it, not matter who stands in their way…
Bleak. Atmospheric. Chilling. A description that fits both the story and the setting. If you follow my blog you will know that I love Scandi Noir. It’s a genre that uses the setting in ways that our own fiction doesn’t always do. Authors like Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier used to do it brilliantly, but often now we only get a brief idea of a dilapidated house for instance or the small town where the murder takes place.
The scruffy house and the small village of Ödesmark in the north of Sweden are characters in themselves. Cold and claustrophobic, there is no escape, just like Liv can’t escape her father Vidar. Everywhere she goes, he follows, waits in the car, warns her that you can’t trust anyone outside their family. It’s a terrible life. Vidar is very rich after conning local people to sell him their land for a pittance, but he won’t spend any of it. The house is falling apart and the car is an old banger.
When Liv has a baby (we don’t know who the father is though – villagers suggest it’s Vidar himself) things are no better. The baby is a boy named Simon. A loner, a bit of an oddball, bullied at school, Liv loves him and wants to protect him.
Brothers Liam and Gabriel are small time drug dealers and into petty crime. But Liam wants to turn over a new leaf so he can buy a house for himself and his four year old daughter Vanja. Gabriel however, drug-riddled and evil-tempered, has other plans and will never allow Liam to go straight if he can help it. Gabriel is truly ghastly, he’s The Devil as reclusive forest dweller Juha calls him.
But no one is more ghastly than Vidar and you will wonder over and over why Liv stays with him. He threatens at one point to kill himself is she leaves and says he can’t manage without her. She can’t even have a normal relationship.
It was a brilliant read with some excellent twists. And though the ending was not unexpected, I didn’t expect it. It was quite a shock. I read and loved Stina’s first novel The Silver Road, but I think this was even better.
Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours.
About the Author
Stina Jackson was born in 1983 and raised in Skellefteå, northern Sweden. In 2006 she moved to Denver, Colorado, where she lives with her husband and small dog. Her debut novel, The Silver Road, was an international bestseller and won The Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2018. The Last Snow is her second novel.